30 Great days out in Herts
- Credit: Archant
The school holidays are time for the whole family to get out and enjoy all that Hertfordshire has to offer, from adrenalin activities to wildlife, culture and heritage. Here’s our guide to 30 of our best days out in the county
Rye House Kart Raceway, Hoddesdon
The circuit where Lewis Hamilton started out is one of the oldest in the country. Suitable for all ages – children can be accommodated on the special 400m junior circuit specially designed for youngsters aged three to eight.
Hatfield House, Hatfield
Historic country estate which incorporates the Old Palace, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I. Visitors can wander the rooms of the impressive Jacobean mansion, built in 1611 by the first Earl of Salisbury, as well as enjoy walking around the beautiful park, gardens and farm.
The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead
Enjoy all the fun and thrills of skiing and snowboarding on real snow, without the need to fly to the Alps – or even go outside! The indoor venue includes a 160m main slope, and a 100m training slope. Ticket price includes equipment hire.
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Natural History Museum, Tring
Once the private museum of Victorian MP and zoologist Lionel Walter Rothschild, this is one of the country’s finest collections of stuffed mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. Now a division of the Natural History Museum, specimens on display include a polar bear, gorilla, emperor penguins and a Tasmanian wolf. All for free.
Willows Farm Village, London Colney
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Fun for all the family with farmyard animals, fairground, tractor rides, children’s shows and falconry displays. Among the attractions is the A-maize-ing Maze, which spans four acres and is due to grow to six feet tall by mid-summer.
De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, London Colney
Labelling itself ‘the best-kept secret in Hertfordshire’, the centre incorporates the Mosquito Aircraft Museum. A number of historic aircraft are on display, including the prototype of the DH 98 Mosquito – the revered Wooden Wonder of World War II, constructed of spruce and balsa.
Celtic Harmony Camp, Brickendon
This delightful education centre allows visitors the chance to experience first-hand how the people of the Celtic Iron Age lived more than 2,000 years ago. Discover how the Celts made food and clothes, and sheltered from the natural environment. There are craft activities and a family woodland survival course, too.
Mill Green Museum, Hatfield
A working 17th century mill where you can see the whole grinding process in action and talk to the millers. The old miller’s cottage is now a museum, with three galleries. Admission for children is free, although there is a charge for special arts and crafts workshops and fun activities in the school holidays.
Cassiobury Park, Watford
The largest public open space in Watford stretches over 190 acres. A children’s playground includes not just the usual slides and swings, but also a granite maze, paddling pools, miniature railway and a zip wire. There is also a designated Local Nature Reserve featuring a special circular trail.
Dinosaur Safari Adventure Golf, Barnet
Play a round of crazy golf surrounded by cascading waterfalls, flowing streams, lagoons, lush greenery and tropical palm trees – oh, and nine dinosaurs from the Jurassic period! If you’re wondering where the course is, just look out for the 100ft Diplodocus which towers over the A1M near the Borehamwood exit.
Pioneer Skatepark, St Albans
Skateboarders, inliners and scooter riders are all welcome at Pioneer Skatepark, which has both indoor and outdoor ramps, quarter pipes and half pipes. If parents think they’ll just be on the sidelines watching, think again – all are welcome, beginners are encouraged and the age of skaters ranges from four to 54, the park managers say.
Delta Force Paintball, Bourne End and Kings Langley
The world’s number one paintball operator has two sites in Hertfordshire to choose from. Both offer a variety of different ‘game zones’ with wild and wonderful names such as Viet Cong Village, Mad Murphy’s Jungle Attack and Castle Wolfenstein. Age 10 and up.
Church Farm, Ardeley
Admission is free at this working ecological farm, where there are cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens and ducks aplenty. Wander around the farmyard and its lanes, let the younger ones have fun in the woodland play area and, for £3 for a bag of feed, you can also give the farm animals their dinner!
Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St Lawrence
This Edwardian villa was the home of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw for more than 40 years, until his death in 1950. Now owned by the National Trust, the property is much as he left it, including the secluded hut in the tranquil grounds where he found inspiration for many of his major works. His play Misalliance will be held in the gardens on July 26 to 28.
Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Cross
Paddle in the footsteps of our Olympic heroes as you experience the thrill of white-water rafting on the course used at London 2012. Rafting, kayaking and canoeing are all on offer and beginners are catered for, so no experience is necessary.
Verulamium Museum, St Albans
A museum of everyday life in the Roman city of Verulamium on which St Albans now stands. Here you will find fascinating artefacts, a collection of mosaics and wall plasters and re-created Roman rooms. Spend time in the lovely Verulamium Park too, where the ruined Roman city walls and a 1,800-year-old hypocaust can still be seen.
Knebworth House, Knebworth
This Gothic manor is much more than just a stately home. There are 250 acres of rolling landscape and ancient tree avenues in Knebworth Park, Edwardian gardens, a maze, and, for the youngsters, an adventure playground and life-size dinosaur trail. Free admission for under-fours.
Rye Meads Nature Reserve, near Hoddesdon
This wetland reserve beside the River Lee is jointly managed by the RSPB and Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust. A favourite haunt of walkers, birdwatchers and photographers, 10 hides look out over the reed beds, wet meadows and artificial sandbanks. Includes a visitor centre and picnic area.
RollerCity, Welwyn Garden City
Get your skates on – literally – and get the whole family down to this council-run rollerskating rink. There are numerous public sessions, spread across different age groups, skating abilities, days of the week and times. Sessions can sell out, so booking in advance is advised.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Leavesden
For a magical day out, look no further than this spell-binding tour delving into the Harry Potter movies, which were filmed at the Leavesden studios. The Great Hall at Hogwarts, Hagrid’s Hut and Diagon Alley are among the sets on show. Pre-booking is essential.
Berkhamsted Treasure Trail, Berkhamsted
A fun, self-guided murder-mystery trail the whole family can take part in. Visit the website and download your trail (cost £6.99 or £12.99 to personalise it), travel to the start at Berkhamsted Castle, follow the 2.5-mile route around the town, solve the clues and discover whodunit.
Pots of Art, St Albans and Hitchin
Create your own original colourful ceramic masterpiece pot in fully-equipped studios, found in both St Albans and Hitchin. You can also make clay impressions of your baby’s hand or foot prints or create a Be My Bear soft toy.
Lee Valley Boat Centre, Broxbourne
Explore the River Lee Country Park – all from the water. Electric boats, rowing boats, pedalos and a Canadian canoe can all be hired at an hourly rate. You can also book up a public or private cruise on a larger vessel, where you can relax and enjoy a meal on board.
Top Golf, Watford
Not simply a driving range, but a golf entertainment complex. You don’t even have to be a budding Tiger Woods to play, either, as the innovative point-scoring golf games really are for everyone – with microchipped golf balls working out your score depending on how near to the target you get.
Fairlands Valley Park, Stevenage
Voted one of the UK’s top 15 free visitor attractions. The 120-acre park in the heart of Stevenage includes a sailing lake where dinghy, kayak, and windsurfing courses take place. There’s also bell and dragon boat hire, fishing, an aqua playground, play area and a 6m climbing wall and rope park.
Battlefield Live Hertfordshire, Sawbridgeworth
Video games come to life in this live combat gaming experience. Participants don camouflage overalls, equip themselves with a full metal body interactive gaming gun and head off into 100 acres of woodland to engage – and try to defeat – the enemy.
Hertfordshire Fire Museum, Watford
Telling the story of firefighting in the county through the years. Appliances include two manual hand pumps dating back to the 1850s, a horse-drawn, steam-powered fire engine and a 1942 Dennis trailer used in World War Two. Check the website for opening times.